Nothing says fall (or Halloween) quite like a pumpkin. When these festive gourds start appearing on front stoops and in windows across New Jersey, you know autumn really has arrived. This year, skip the grocery store pumpkins and take a day trip to one of NJ's excellent pumpkin patches, where you're sure to run into more fall fun, including barnyard animals, hay and corn mazes, and even the season's other favorite fruit: apples.
Red on for more than a dozen spots where you'll be sure to find the perfect pumpkin.
Closer to the New York border? Check out these Westchester and Hudson Valley pumpkin patches. If you're in south Jersey or headed for a Bucks County getaway this fall, our Philadelphia site has the scoop on Pennsylvania pumpkin patches.
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Alstede Farms – Chester
This NJ farm has a lot to offer, including tons of activities for the kids. You'll find a bounce house, wagon ride, corn maze, hay pyramid, and farm animals to feed—plus a farm stand and plenty of pick-your-own options. It gets very busy on the weekends, so plan to arrive before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to beat the crowds—or come on a weekday if you can. Pick your own pumpkins from mid-September through mid-November. There are various ticket packages, including a weekday special. Check out the farm's tips to plan your visit.
Conklin Farm U-Pick – Montville
Conklin is a smaller venue that comes highly recommended from our MP writers. It has all you could ask for: pumpkin picking, a corn maze, and hayrides (even a haunted hayride for your older, braver kids), but at a less frenetic pace. A snack shack with hot cider, candy apples, and warm, homemade donuts will keep everyone full and happy.
Demarest Farms – Hillsdale
This Bergen County farm is a fun place to take the family. Pick-your-own pumpkins begins mid-September at this local favorite, and includes weekday and weekend options. You can also pick your own apples and vegetables, hitch a hayride, and paint pumpkins. Dig into the fresh salad bar and deli if you need a post-picking pick-me-up.
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Climb on the wooden train at Happy Day Farm's "Kids Korner." Photo courtesy of the farm.
Happy Day Farm – Manalapan
You won't be bored at this Monmouth County farm. It's loaded with family activities, including pumpkin picking, crafts, pony rides, hayrides, a wooden train, pig races, swings, a zoo, and even a "Kids Korner" for the 2- to 6-year-old crowd. Plus, you won't want to miss the Curious George–themed corn maze.
Heaven Hills Farm – Vernon
Heaven Hill Farm is known for its Great Pumpkin Festival, billed as the "largest fall festival in Northern NJ." You'll find pumpkin picking, but also hayrides, pig races, a cool spider web crawl, games, carnival rides (only on weekends), corn stalk and hay maze, farm animals, a boo barn, and much more. Return later in the season for the Halloween Trick or Treat Trail.
Norz Hill Farm – Hillsborough
Pumpkin picking, hayrides, and farm animals are all part of the fall fun at Norz Hill. Pumpkins and hayrides are available on weekends beginning in early September, and daily later in season. Don't forget to try the five-acre corn maze, which boasts a new design each season.
Oasis Family Farm – Robbinsville
Pick pumpkins, eat homemade ice cream, enjoy games, and check out Monster Truck Day at this NJ farm. There's even an ant colony and gem mine to explore!
Ort Farms – Long Valley
This 100-year old, family-run farm is described as quieter and less commercial by visitors but still offers tons of family fun, including hayrides, farm animals, chopping pumpkins off the vine, a tractor play set, hay pyramid, and even monster truck rides.
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Get 'em straight from the vine at Riamede Farm. Photo courtesy of the farm.
Riamede Farm – Chester
For some real pumpkin picking, the kind where you cut the pumpkin right off the vine yourself, go to Riamede Farm. This quiet, simple, laid-back farm includes a hayride to the pumpkin patch. Don’t forget to bring your own clippers!
Stony Hill Farms – Chester
Huge, homegrown pumpkins are waiting to be picked at Stony Hill Farms, open late September through October weekends. While you're there, check out the farm's other fall festivities, including hayrides, fresh produce and baked goods, and a 10-acre sea turtle corn maze.
Sussex County Strawberry Farm – Newton
The name of this farm can be misleading; Sussex County Strawberry Farm has pumpkins, too! Beginning the first week in October, enjoy picking many different varieties of pumpkins, weekend hayrides, horse-drawn carriages, fresh cider, and apples.
Terhune Orchards – Princeton
Terhune is such a fun place to bring the family because of the breadth of kid-friendly things to do around the farm. Check out the pumpkin-picking fields (September – October) at the main farm (Cold Soil Road), where you can grab some gourds as well. Weekends from mid-September through October, enjoy Fall Fun Weekends complete with music, food, pony rides, the adventure barn, and more. Head over for the Read & Pick Pumpkins event (October 3), where kids will hear two pumpkin-related stories and then get to pick their very own pumpkin to bring home. Plus, kids can always enjoy the farm animals, trails, and hayrides, and parents will love the farm store and winery.
RELATED: Best Apple Picking Farms in NJ with Kids
Kids will love the corn sandbox at Wightman's. Photo by the author.
Wightman's Farm – Morristown
This is my family's go-to pick-your-own NJ farm. Wightman's kicks off pumpkin season in mid-September, and the fun that awaits includes pumpkin picking, hayrides, mazes, a hay slide, and my kids' favorite, the corn sandbox.
Williams Nursery – Westfield
The perfect "starter" pumpkin patch for the little ones, Williams is an adorable farm with a small homemade pumpkin patch. You'll also find wagons to pull, a maze, hayride, pony rides, and apple cider. Keep an eye out for fall events, such as a scarecrow contest and free mini-pumpkin weekends.
This article first published in September 2012 and was updated for 2017.
Top photo by Christine Szeto via Flickr.